I love enchiladas, but I think these might be even better. Completely unphotogenic, just like enchiladas, but more fun to say and possibly healthier (at least if you put spinach inside, like I did). There are ENDLESS variations… it would be really easy to make these either vegan or meaty, depending on your preferences.

Lately I’ve been loving living vicariously through bloggers who make beautiful desserts, have awesome jobs, and live in beautiful places. My life lately has been a blur of the gym at 5 AM, a whole day of 13 year olds, and nights of grading labs and tests. I’m happy, it’s just very routine, which is why I’m looking forward to this weekend’s long run much more than usual.

And speaking of being happy, there was a clip on Oprah recently about “America’s Happiest City,” which I guess someone decided was San Luis Obispo, California. I have really mixed feelings about the clip, in which Jenny McCarthy sees about 2 square blocks of town and chats with “happy locals.” (You can watch it here). I lived in San Luis Obispo for 8 years. I went to college, made tons of friends, met my husband, and got married in that town, so of course I have lots of happy memories. But something about the concept of finding the happiest place in America just seems a little ridiculous to me.

I did have a lot of happy times in San Luis Obispo, but I also had a TON of stressful times, and ultimately, I’m realizing now that living here in this nondescript suburb of San Francisco (which will never even make the top 100 for happiest cities in the country, I’m sure) I’m possibly happier than I’ve ever been before. I have a job that I love, lots of great places to run, and I feel like Mike and I are finally moving in the right direction toward our future.

For some reason, San Luis Obispo always felt like a kind of holding pattern. I never found a job that was satisfying, and in a lot of ways the town seemed like an out-of-touch bubble. I think my point, if I can dig one out of this mess of thoughts in my head, is that it shouldn’t matter what the happiest place in the country is. I’m guessing 95% of the country will never be able to afford to live there anyway. I think what matters, as cliche as it may be, is to find your own happiness wherever you are. Even if it’s a foggy suburb you didn’t know existed until you happened upon a job there.

So now that that’s out there, let’s get back to the food. I love this dinner because it’s quick and simple, but feels like comfort food.

There are just a couple steps:
1. Dip corn tortillas in a beans to soften them up.

2. Fill them with a little spinach, mushrooms, and grated cheese.

3. Then roll up and serve with hot sauce. This is our latest discovery from the Mexican grocery store. The lime is key!

(adapted from Herbivoracious)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups pinto beans, with their liquid (2 15-ounce cans)
water as needed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh spinach, leaves only (washed well, then drained)
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese

about 10 corn tortillas
cilantro, for garnish

To prepare the beans, heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the beans and cover, then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, adding water as needed (you’re going for the consistency of gravy or hot fudge sauce). Salt to taste. Turn heat to low.

Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium high. Saute the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using tongs, dip a tortilla in the beans. Hold it there for about 5-10 seconds, until it has softened but isn’t falling apart. Transfer it to a bowl, fill with about 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture, sprinkle with a little cheese, then loosely roll up. Repeat for all of the tortillas.

Spoon some of the extra beans over the tortillas, then garnish with cilantro. Serve right away.

10 Responses to “Enfrijoladas”

  1. 1 ashlee January 28, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Those look delicious! I agree with your comments about no such thing as best place to live or happiest. It would be different for everyone. While some people love Jacksonville, my dream place to live is Bloomington, IN, a tiny college town that is really a hidden gem! Glad everything’s falling in place for you and your husband 🙂

  2. 2 Jen January 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Cate – these look great! A really fun and healthier twist on enchiladas. I love the idea of dipping the tortillas in beans to soften.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. 3 Sarah January 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Hi Cate,

    I love your blog, and read it all the time, but have never commented.

    I also went to school in San Luis Obispo, and lived there for 13 years. I wanted so badly to love that place. It should have been perfect. But, after college my friends left. I struggled to find a good job, and while I had two decent jobs there, they were low paying and definite struggles for me. I bought a few houses, but lost them in the great recession of 2008. I have very mixed feelings about San Luis Obispo. Some fond, and others rather terrible. I felt trapped there though. I wanted SLO to work for me, but it never did.

    In the end, I met a great guy, and took a big leap with a new job and a big move to Portland, OR. I could not be happier. Boy, was it hard to leave San Luis Obispo though. It turns out the grass really was greener on the other side. 🙂 Lucky me, right?

  4. 4 Cate January 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Sarah – That is awesome that you’re loving Portland. I grew up there and I agree, it’s a fantastic place!

  5. 5 Sarah January 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Portland really is fantastic! We’ve been here for three months now, and we have a great place, great jobs, and are having so much fun exploring the city. I grew up between SF and Sac. We’ve lived similar but opposite lives. How weird, huh?

    I’m going to try your recipe. It looks great.

  6. 6 Kate January 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

    If Disney is the happiest place on earth, isn’t it by default the happiest place in America?
    The girl living in “America’s Finest City.”

  7. 7 janet January 29, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I have never heard of enfrijoladas but now that I see your photos, I am bound to recreate it at home, too! 🙂

    I always feel like you make your own happiness, no matter where you live. It just helps when you are closer to family and friends… and well-stocked ethnic grocery stores. 😉

  8. 8 Kelsey January 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

    These look wonderful. Perhaps, since I live in the city with four of the ten most dangerous intersections in America, I should stay home for safety purposes and make these enfrijoladas!

  9. 9 Mary January 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    These really do look scrumptious, Cate. I’m brand new to your blog and have just spent some tome browsing through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  1. 1 meatless monday | enfrijoladas | the lushers Trackback on November 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

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